Eggs are traditionally much celebrated at Easter. Yet the 36 million hens currently laying eggs for the masses in Britain have very little to be chirpy about. Around half - 18 million - of whom remain trapped in cruel wire cages, while the rest live on falsely-named 'free-range' farms. And that's just the girls. Male chicks never leave the hatcheries and are gassed at just a day or two old. Deemed of zero use to the unscrupulous egg industry, these innocent, baby animals are discarded as if they are rubbish before their feathers even grow. Something you won't read about on free-range egg boxes.
Crammed in with up to 80 others, laying hens unfortunate enough to grow up in cages are barely able to move. Their incarceration is a surprising fact for many consumers duped into believing cages for hens had been abolished years ago. We are, after all, frequently told we have "the best animal welfare standards in the world". Tell that to the millions of confined laying hens.
In fact, the battery cage was replaced by another monstrosity - the 'enriched' cage. A barren wire cage around the size of a pool table containing up to 80 bored, stressed, fragile and frustrated hens. For these birds, the warming and pleasurable experience of sunlight may only come once in their lifetime. Through the slatted sides of a slaughterhouse lorry. They will never feel the soft touch of grass underneath, and natural dustbathing - a behaviour of such inherent importance to hens - is denied to them forever. Their experience of life will only be from inside the vast, stinking and filthy sheds of a factory farm.
Viva! investigators have spent many hours inside these farms. And they have seen the misery first-hand. As part of our year-long probe into the British egg industry, they have also seen and documented the misery experienced by 'free-range' farms. A side of the industry that works hard to portray happy, healthy hens roaming lush green fields of the British countryside. Unfortunately, studies and our own research reveals this not to be the case. The vast majority of laying hens on free-range farms will never step outside the vast, stinking and filthy sheds of a factory farm. Sound familiar? The uncomfortable answer is that there is no humane way to farm hens.
Eggs aren't ours. They are theirs. And hen mothers want to raise their young and live pain-free and happy lives. Just as we do.
Viva! is taking the egg-free plea to the highstreets this Easter. With six-foot display boards, we'll be urging passers-by to stop for a minute to pause and reflect on the lives of the animals producing what is commonly believed to be a harmless 'product'. We'll also be taking the findings of our year-long investigation out to the masses in virtual reality.
Thankfully, there are more resources now than ever before to help people move away from eggs. Viva! has plenty of egg-free recipe guides and supermarkets are full to the brim with egg-free products. Freshly named as 'aquafaba', bean juice has even been hailed as a viable and tasty replacement product for meringues and cakes. This Easter, why not join the vegan revolution and go egg-free. It couldn't be easier!